Class website (lecture schedule, detailed assignments, etc.)

Scand/CompLit 230
Introduction to Folklore Studies

Fall Quarter 2010

Class meets Monday thru Thursday, 10:30-11:20, Mechanical Engineering Building 238.

Instructor: Guntis Šmidchens 
Office: Raitt Hall 305 v 
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12-1 pm, and by appointment
Phone:  (206) 616-5224 

Course Description 

Folklore (traditional stories, beliefs, songs, and customs) is a rich resource for remembering and understanding people and their worldviews.  This course will survey genres of folklore: Folk Narratives (folktales, legends, myths, and jokes), and folk poetry (ballads, epic and lyric songs), and study the people who maintain folklore traditions. A variety of theories and methods applied in folklore studies during the past two centuries will be introduced in readings and lectures.  

Course Objectives

  • Learn some “classic” folklore examples: variants of legends, folktales and songs in Northern Europe and America.  
  • Encounter and critique some classic analytical approaches to folklore.
  • Follow a leading 20th century American folklorist – Richard Dorson— and critique his fieldwork methods and interpretations.
  • Do folklore studies:  Collect, describe and interpret items of folklore from oral tradition


  • Two collection projects and portfolio: 20%
  • Class discussion (face-to-face and online) 20%

  • Two midterm exams and final exam (multiple choice / short answer), 60% 

Required Readings 

  • Elliot Oring, Editor, Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: An Introduction (at UW Bookstore)
  • R. Dorson, Bloodstoppers and Bearwalkers (at UW Bookstore)
  • Additional required readings include websites and selected articles as listed in the class website


Last Updated: